WASHINGTON -- The prosecutor who sent former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell to jail on tax evasion charges has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be the region's chief federal law enforcement officer.
Obama's nomination of Sally Quillian Yates as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia had been expected.
She has served as acting U.S. attorney since August, when her predecessor, David Nahmias, resigned to take a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court. Since then, she has handled a number of high-profile cases.
Earlier this month, her office completed prosecution of two Atlanta-area men on terrorism charges. Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, of Roswell was sentenced to 17 years in prison and co-defendant Syed Haris Ahmed, 25, of Atlanta was sentenced to 13 years for providing support to terrorist groups and plotting terrorist acts against the United States.
Yates' office in recent months also prosecuted a couple from Winston, Ga., who pleaded guilty to running a mortgage fraud operation; a Miami man sentenced for running a million-dollar Medicaid fraud business; and an Ellenwood, Ga., minister and his wife accused of human trafficking and immigration violations.
Her most prominent prosecution, however, was of Bill Campbell, Atlanta's mayor from 1994-2002.
Campbell had been charged with racketeering and bribery after an extensive investigation and prosecution led by Yates. He was ultimately convicted only of tax evasion. He served about two years in prison before being freed in October 2008.
Yates was recommended to Obama by the state's Democratic congressmen on the advice of an advisory panel of 11 lawyers and elected officials.
But her recommendation didn't come without controversy. She was one of several people recommended for the job. At one point, her recommendation was apparently withdrawn at least in part because of pressure from Campbell supporters who decried her prosecution of the former mayor as too aggressive.
In 2006, Yates defended her prosecution of the former mayor and denied allegations by Campbell that she was on a "witch hunt."
"We would have been derelict in our duty if we had not tried this case," she said at the time, according to news reports.
Yates has worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta since 1989. She has served twice as acting U.S. attorney; she also held the role in 2004 before Nahmias was tapped for the job.
From 1986 to 1989, Yates was an attorney at the private law firm of King & Spalding. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 1982 and the University of Georgia School of Law in 1986.
Her nomination is for a four-year term; it still requires Senate approval.
Yates' nomination was part of a flurry of judicial nominations announced by the president before he left for Hawaii on vacation and the Senate adjourned for the year.
The White House also announced the nomination of six other U.S. attorneys, two judges and several other judicial appointments in other states.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.